Brute Force

Contributor: Damien Krsteski

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"Oh, crap," said process ID #71, also known to other currently running processes as Dave. "I can't make out the second word."

His hands shook visibly, cueing Steve, or process ID #72, to step in. He elbowed his way to the front, took Dave's place before the controls and peered into the periscope himself, though not without first casting a reproachful glance at the other, apparently much less capable process.

"Second word's 'incense' you myopic moron," he said, handed the periscope back to Dave and proudly strolled to the back of the room. Dave blushed and mumbled something about the letters being in different colors and hard to discern.

The whole vessel, which rather resembled a submarine, vibrated softly, its passengers buzzing with excitement. Finally, they'd been given access to the password entry forms. Every single one of them sprawled on the floor as a clunky sound signaled the rapid ascent to the surface. Steam whistled out of pipes mounted to the side walls and pressure gauges dropped sharply. The ride was rough on every process in the bunch; Dave felt confident by the end he'd be lying in a puddle of the half-digested tomato soup and broccoli salad he'd had for lunch (Tuesday was Low-Calorie Day).

Several moments later, the vessel stabilized and surfaced near a sandy beach. It was your typical postcard beach with palm groves scattered here and there and foamy waves lazily nibbling on the golden shore. There was one slight difference, though. Along the entire coastline, metal crosses and barbed wire planted in the sand made sure to render an intruder's life significantly harder.

"Holy CPU," exclaimed Steve, "I'm willing to bet a thousand milliseconds of computing time they have underwater bombs too."

"We never expected a second firewall." Bill heaved out a sigh of resignation.

Steve cast him one of his patented sharp looks, one eyebrow cocked up. "I didn't come this far to give up." He put his hands around his mouth and shouted to the back of the room, "Prepare the password arrays."

One by one, around fifty little soldiers got out of their quarters and lined up to the front of the vessel. They all wore shirts that had a number, character or a symbol stamped on it. Steve queued them up neatly, stuffed letter 'Q' in a cannon and fired him towards the island's jungle. He gave the second one, letter 'p', a salute, stuffed and fired him too. Once the first platoon of fifty characters had been fired out, Steve ordered another and then another after that.

Somewhere in the middle of the firing of the third platoon, the vessel shook ominously. A loud but muffled bang resounded and mere seconds later water leaked inside. The crack widened, spraying water in every direction.

"Run for your lives," screamed symbol '~'.

Steve's shouts about desertion and treachery were soon stifled as water filled up the entirety of the submarine. Every single process, character, buffer and pointer disappeared until there was nothing and nobody.


Matt stared at his computer screen, incredulous. The loading bar stuck at ninety-six percent disappeared and a crash report took its place, blinking stupidly at him.

He banged his fist on the keyboard, cursing under his breath.

So far this month, this had been his seventieth attempt at breaking into Jennifer Morgan's online personal profile, and he didn't seem to be getting any closer. All that trouble just to learn a girl's likes and dislikes, secret ambitions, wishes and aspirations. That way, Matt had theorized, at least he'd stand a chance.

Now, out of sheer frustration, Matt started thinking the unthinkable. Maybe, he should just go up to her, tell her everything.

Except, this time, without stuttering and sweating all over.

Blushing with shame, he brushed the thought away, muttering about suitable algorithms to crack the second firewall.

Matt pushed his glasses up his nose. He rebooted the hacking program, its autobots respawning, ready for action. Seventy-third time's a charm, he thought, and slammed the Enter key.

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Damien Krsteski is a science-fiction author and musician from Skopje, Macedonia, tirelessly working to earn his Comp. Sci. degree.
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